I met Olivia on Facebook, there was something about her posts and humor that I really liked. Plus, like me, she is a Brit who now lives in the USA. When she needed somewhere to stay so she could attend SheRecoversNYC I didn’t hesitate. I just knew we would get on. Luckily for me, we more than hit it off and it was so great to have someone to share the traveling and experience with. The wonderful thing about the online sober community is so many people I’ve met online have become real life friends. Liv is now a friend and I’m so happy I can share her story with you.
Writer and wellness advocate, Olivia Pennelle (Liv), is in long-term recovery. Liv passionately believes in a fluid and holistic approach to recovery. Her popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen is a resource for the journey toward health and wellness in recovery. For Liv, the kitchen represents the heart of the home: to eat, share, and love. You will find Liv featured amongst top recovery writers and bloggers, published on websites such as: Recovery.Org, The Fix, Intervene, Workit Health, iExhale, Sapling, Addiction Unscripted, Transformation is Real, Sanford House, Winward Way & Casa Capri.
1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
I ended up in my apartment having left my job, completely alone, with few friendships left. I’d drank 14 bottles of wine and taken a packet of codeine over three days. I was covered in blood and my apartment was a chaotic mess. I had zero recollection of what had happened. I reached a point of surrender: I had utterly had enough, to the very core of my being. Something had shifted and I was faced with two choices: either to die, or to get help. Emotionally I was shattered into a million pieces; thoroughly broken. Mentally, I was acutely depressed. I had a breakdown. I chose to get help.
2) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
Hell and enlightening at the same time. I might have made it through the acute effects of alcohol poisoning, but what I was left with was a shell of a person. I had gained 150 pounds by drinking, using, and binge-eating.
Mentally, I felt utterly broken. I had zero comprehension of who I was, or how I had ended up there. The best description I have heard of the first few weeks of recovery, was like someone turned the volume right up and put the lights on full blast. I felt like I was on stage for all to see—completely exposed, with nothing to hide behind. Yet, I was compelled to walk this new path and am so glad that I did.
3) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?
I got clean and sober, and have maintained that for over five years.
I have no desire to use.
When I stop living in fear and start living in faith everything has been provided for me. For example, I moved to America and have acquired work each week since I arrived. I have been through some pretty traumatic times (the death of my brother, breaking my arm) and have been able to stay sober.
4) If you could go back in time to you when you were drinking/using what would you tell yourself?
That I was worthy of so much more than survival, and that a life of my dreams was waiting just as soon as I put down the bottle.
5) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
I realized what a strong and incredible human I am; who is able to overcome trauma, turmoil, and her demons, and triumph over them.
I discovered that I have an incredible entrepreneurial spirit, which
enabled me to start a side hustle which turned into a career. I carved out a niche in the online recovery community, in the area of the journey toward health and wellness in recovery. I was able to quit a job I hated and move across the world to pursue a full-time freelance position as a writer and entrepreneur.
I uncovered creative talent. In fact, creative expression is a cornerstone of my program of recovery—as much as exercise.
I know who I am today, and am not ashamed to stand tall and declare it.
6) Tell me about something wonderful that happened to you recently that never would have happened if you had been drinking.
I moved continent to pursue a dream and it came true.
7) What are your favorite recovery slogans?
All it takes is faith, trust and pixie dust.
You are so much stronger than you think.
8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
What is great about recovery is that:
• it gives me the space to process what is happening and how I choose to respond—life is no longer reactionary (most of the time)
• I no longer have to spend my life consumed and obsessed with getting my next hit to avoid life
• Life today is something I actively want to experience rather than exist in
• I experience great joy in my life
• I am able to have a relationship with myself—a person who I love today.